| 1968, 1969, 1985|
| New Riders of the Purple Sage|
Country rock, Experimental music
New Riders of the Purple Sage albums, Country rock albums
Before Time Began is the eleventh studio album and thirteenth album overall by the country rock group the New Riders of the Purple Sage. It was released in 1986 on the Relix Records label.
The first half of the album contains very early recording sessions by the New Riders. Some of the songs are performed by the original lineup of the band, which consisted of John "Marmaduke" Dawson, David Nelson, and three members of the Grateful Dead — Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, and Mickey Hart. The second half of the album contains experimental music created by David Nelson, called "The Backwards Tapes".
The first four songs on Before Time Began are from the New Riders' first studio session, at Pacific Heights Recording in San Francisco, California, in November 1969. This is the only known studio recording made by the band's original lineup. In the following two years, NRPS often performed as the opening act at Grateful Dead concerts. In 1970, Dave Torbert replaced Phil Lesh as the New Riders' bass player, and Spencer Dryden replaced Mickey Hart on drums.
The next two songs on the album are from an even earlier studio session, before the New Riders of the Purple Sage had formed. This session took place at Pacific Recording in San Mateo, California, on July 31, 1968. These tracks are credited to "Marmaduke and friends". According to the album liner notes, which were written by David Nelson, these are "two songs John [Dawson] cut in 1968 in San Mateo with the help of Garcia and some members of Doug Sahm's group," indicating that Jerry Garcia plays pedal steel guitar on these tracks.
Bob Matthews was the audio engineer at both studio sessions. Along with Betty Cantor, Matthews recorded many Grateful Dead concerts, and co-produced their albums Live/Dead and American Beauty. He also played bass at some early New Riders practice sessions before Lesh joined the band.
The final six songs on Before Time Began are "The Backwards Tapes". This experimental music was recorded by David Nelson in the mid 1980s. Nelson had become interested in speaking, singing, and playing music backwards, so that the lyrics and melody would be correct when the tape was played back in reverse. "The Backwards Tapes" were made using a multitrack analog tape recorder, and contain different combinations of tracks that were recorded backwards or forwards. In the album liner notes, Nelson explains this process, and also comments briefly on each of the songs.
For example, "Deh Rominap" is an interpretation of the chorus of the New Riders' hit single "Panama Red", from their album The Adventures of Panama Red. Nelson recorded himself singing the words and playing the guitar backwards, to sound forwards when played back in reverse. The song "Deh Rominap" has three parts. First the tape recording is played backwards, sounding like the chorus of "Panama Red" performed forwards, but eerily and humorously distorted. Next the tape recording is played forwards, so the listener hears Nelson's backwards performance. Finally the tape is played backwards again. The name of the song is a transcription of the phrase that Nelson found he had to sing to produce the words "Panama Red" when played back in reverse.
Part 1 – Early New Riders
- "Henry" (John Dawson) – 3:39
- "All I Ever Wanted" (Dawson) – 4:28
- "Last Lonely Eagle" (Dawson) – 4:47
- "Cecilia" (Dawson) – 4:06
- "Garden of Eden" (Dawson) – 3:09
- "Superman" (Dawson) – 2:19
Part 2 – The Backwards Tapes
- "Deh Rominap" (Peter Rowan, David Nelson) – 1:48
- "A Handful of Brains" (Nelson) – 2:43
- "I'm Through with the Fish, Harve" (Nelson) – 1:44
- "Och Tamale" (C. Merle Waterman, Nelson) – 1:25
- "A Handful of Brains Part II" (Nelson) – 4:49
- "Where Discipline Comes In" (Nelson) – 2:52
Tracks 1 – 4John Dawson – acoustic guitar, lead vocals
David Nelson – electric guitar, vocals
Jerry Garcia – pedal steel guitar, vocals
Phil Lesh – bass
Mickey Hart – drums
Tracks 5 – 6Marmaduke and friends (John Dawson, Jerry Garcia, and some members of Doug Sahm's group)
Tracks 7 – 12David Nelson – guitar, vocals
David Nelson – producer
George Horn – mastering
David Nelson – cover art
1Henry3:43Before Time Began Wikipedia
2All I Ever Wanted4:31
3Last Lonely Eagle4:49